San Bernardino County, CA – Betty* had not smiled in years. Although she had worked in the local school cafeteria for more than a dozen years, dental insurance was not one of her benefits, and her teeth were not in good shape. Betty was embarrassed. One day, as she passed the yellow and blue 2‐1‐1 poster on the school’s corkboard for the thousandth time, Betty decided to call, and dialed the toll‐free 2‐1‐1 number from her home phone and spoke with Mark.
Betty found that Mark was one of the friendly and knowledgeable 211 staff members whose entire purpose for answering the phone is to help people find appropriate affordable services. Their tool is a massive database using a nationally standardized keyword process for pinpointing services quickly. Betty was given information on a local agency whose service she qualified for. When she called back to tell us her story, Betty’s final comment was, “Thank Mark for me, will you please? That boy gave me my smile back!”
This Friday, 211 San Bernardino will be celebrating its fifth anniversary. In preparation for Friday’s event, the Board of Supervisors adopted a proclamation marking February 11 – or 2/11 – as 2‐1‐1 Day for San Bernardino County through 2017. Since February 11 falls on a Saturday this year, United Way has elected to celebrate five years of 211 service on Friday, February 10, 2012.
As the official operator of the 3‐digit toll‐free 2‐1‐1 dialing code, the United Way has answered more than 305,000 calls during the short history of 211, giving callers information and referrals to thousands of health and human service resources. An alternate toll‐free number also connects callers to the 24‐hour service: (888)435‐7565.
The 211 San Bernardino Fifth Anniversary Celebration will occur in the San Bernardino County Government Center Rotunda, 385 North Arrowhead Avenue, San Bernardino, CA 92415‐0130. The rotunda space will be host to 211 displays all morning, and the celebration ceremony will occur at 10am, with Fifth District Supervisor Jose Gonzales appearing as a speaker.
A wide array of information about 211 will be on display including what 211 is, why people call, real life stories of individuals affected by the availability of the service, and actual recordings of 211 calls. Staff from 211 will be on hand to answer questions about their work.
211 is operated collaboratively by the United Ways of San Bernardino County, working closely with many County departments and hundreds of other non‐profit providers. The 2‐1‐1 dialing code works from all landlines in the county and nearly all mobile providers. Businesses can take advantage of the service by programming their phone systems to pass 2‐1‐1 calls through.
*Real name of client was changed to protect confidentiality.
About 211 San Bernardino:
211 San Bernardino is a countywide program operated by Inland Empire United Way in partnership with Arrowhead United Way, Desert Communities United Way, United Way of Mojave Valley, and United Way of the Desert. Following California Public Utilities Commission approval to utilize the 3‐digit dialing code, full 24‐hour 211 service began in late September of 2006. The purpose of the 211 hotline is to easily and efficiently empower community members by connecting them to appropriate free and low cost health and human services, the information of which is continually maintained in a comprehensive database. Beyond San Bernardino County, 211 service is available to about 92% of the residents of California and about 86% of the US population.
About Inland Empire United Way:
Inland Empire United Way (IEUW) is a nonprofit organization that works in partnership with local community leaders, businesses, government agencies, other nonprofits, and individuals to build a stronger, healthier community. By focusing on Education, Health, and Financial Stability, and Volunteerism, as well as 2‐1‐1 San Bernardino County, long‐lasting and positive changes are made in the lives of children, families, and individuals. IEUW is completed dedicated to serving the Inland Empire and annually touches over 100,000 individual lives. IEUW’s service area covers portions of Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside counties.
For more information, please visit www.ieuw.org.